In an already complicated environment we find this story that suggests some confusion or inconsistency over the area and demographics of Marjah. For me the size and complexity of this particular battle space is not as important as understanding why it might have been represented as something other than what it actually is. Until further clarification is provided I think it wise to assume there might have been a general misunderstanding during one of the briefings and press releases that followed. As for the intentional spread of disinformation, I have my thoughts:
I understand the use of disinformation as a tool of strategy. I also believe that as Americans (specifically) we have an aversion to killing 'innocents'. Reasonable men, however, are going to one day crawl all over the pages of history that have been chosen to chronicle the decisions and actions of this campaign and in the end it will be determined that we either underestimated the enemy or failed to ID him correctly. And if we failed at these, we also will be seen to have failed to respond correctly. The fact that Marines are successful regardless of the sensibility of upper echelon's reasoning is almost irrelevant. The history books are replete with examples of United States Marines overcoming unbelievable odds, decimating the enemy and surviving. The greatest example is at the Chosin Reservoir. The fact that the 1st Marine Division killed an estimated 30,000 Chinese does nothing to mitigate the abysmal failures of the 8th Army and MacArthur's leadership on the other side of the Taebaeks.
The use of biometrics, the 'shutting down' of Fallujah and thus forcing cooperation would seem reasonable in a reasonably defined battle space but the Middle East and Central Asia are anything but reasonable - by western standards. And there-in lies the foundation of the problem; trying to mold the enemy into our image. This same scenario was used by Templer in Malaya with a reasonable degree of success but the players were far different. The Malayan's were largely unsympathetic to the communist insurgency and had no other ties with them. It was a gamble but one that seemed to have a likely hope of success and it did indeed succeed. No, I think the main reason that will one day be concluded for success in Fallujah was saturation. Of course the problem with saturation without a sincere concentration on destroying the enemy (body count) is that it cannot be expected to have a long term success. There is a reason why elements like Al Qaida and the Taliban have been successful where the CT's in Malaya failed; shared history and shared ideology.
The truth we seem to be unwilling to accept is that all of the players there are of the same mind with just shades of variation. Trying to 'turn' the civilian population against the 'insurgency' is about as likely as convincing entrenched citizens of Atlanta that Sherman was a hero. Any discussion about what we should expect once we pull out, in whole, should be tempered by what we are watching right now in their election cycle. There is little doubt that the Iranian influence seems to be gaining traction. The puppet government in place at the moment is highly unlikely to be able to withstand a coup of the kind the Islamic world is known for and capable of. Once the American saturation is completely removed, does anyone really believe stability, in any form we can live with, will remain?
Now move over to Afghanistan and their history. Does anyone really believe that these attempts to sway public opinion away from core Islamic jihadists and toward 'Christian' western forces and governance stands any chance of success; any? The one really great truth I have read in many days is that once we leave, the Afghan's are once again going to be left with the mess yet another outside influence leaves and they know it. They are not likely to do much to damage their future relations with the element that will be left standing; the Taliban.
Point is; as I have said before, we, as Americans have a legitimate right to defend our shores, our way of life and our population with ferocity and without a felt need to apologize for it. The Islamic world has little to hate us for specifically except for the fact we have not subjugated ourselves to Allah. This war they wage - collectively is indeed religious in nature and has been waged, as we all know, since the seventh century. If we then have any reason to suspect a threat to our security, we should respond and respond understanding that all the players, all, at the level of their ideology agree or at least have no particular heartburn with our being destroyed at the hands of Islamic forces. This being the case, we should show at least as much commitment to our own security as they are willing to show to our destruction.
As a Marine, I take personal offense to the wanton destruction of our own forces for the misplaced sentimentality shown to a people who have no regard for life, much less ours. Their plight is theirs. Our security is ours. If these two views are divergent; so-be-it. Any attempt by our elected officials to defend members of another nation while simultaneously bringing undo pain to our forces for the same, places them in violation of their oaths.